Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City
News & Events FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 4/7/2015
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Competitive Grant Awarded to OSU-OKC for Emergency Child Care Program
 
(April 6 2015, Oklahoma City, OK) – The Women’s Foundation of Oklahoma (WFO) recently awarded a $5,000 Single Mothers Academic Resource Team (SMART) grant to Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City (OSU-OKC) in order to expand educational opportunities for and assistance to single mothers.
 
Nationwide, the number of college students with dependent children is growing. Women, without the support of a partner or spouse, represent the overwhelming majority of parents who are also students, according to a 2014 Institute for Women’s Policy (IWPR) study.
 
In order to achieve a post-secondary degree, single parents need additional financial assistance, even after financial aid and student loans, in order to obtain child care and make ends meet for their families, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Education. Unfortunately, single parents are more likely than traditional students to drop out because of this disproportionate financial burden.
 
The WFO grant, awarded to Oklahoma organizations, funds the creation and expansion of educational opportunity awareness initiatives for women and girls, as well as the creation or expansion of programs and events to support single mothers.
 
“Higher education is paramount to ensuring economic security,” said Brad Williams, OSU-OKC vice president of Student Services. “That’s why we must find ways to support single parents, so that they don’t have to choose between parenting and going to school to improve their lives and the lives of their family.”
 
OSU-OKC will use the grant money to implement a new emergency child care assistance program, which will help alleviate some of the stressors of being a student parent. The program will offer an hour of emergency child care for every class credit hour at partnering metro-area certified child care centers. Mai Pham, a student at OSU-OKC who is also a single parent, said the grant will help her dedicate more time toward her education by providing a safe place for her son while she is in class.
 
Research shows that increasing parents’ educational attainment yields positive impacts for both parents and children, according to IWPR reports. For parents, higher educational attainment results in higher earnings and greater access to resources. For children, a parent’s degree means more involvement in the child’s education, and a greater likelihood that the child will pursue a post-secondary degree.
 
Although the grant money is substantial, the number of single mothers and the number of hours enrolled at OSU-OKC exceeds the number of emergency child care hours provided by the grant. To account for this, OSU-OKC is committed to financially supplementing the program.
 
“My situation is similar to many single mothers,” said Shelby Keown, OSU-OKC student. She works full time and attends classes in the evening. Finding evening child care, she says, can be difficult. Programs such as these help single mothers stay on the right track to complete their educational goals.
 
As part of the grant, OSU-OKC will also increase awareness of educational opportunities and campus support for single mothers, and host its first on-campus orientation specifically designed for single mothers and their children.
 
WFO is devoted to improving the self-sufficiency of women and ensuring bright futures for girls. Grants provided by WFO focus on Oklahoma women because they lag behind women in most states in both education and economics. Nearly 20 percent of Oklahoma girls never graduate high school, and only 19 percent of Oklahoma women have completed a four-year college education, according to IWPR. In terms of economic security, Oklahoma women earn only 76 cents for every dollar men earn, and nearly 19 percent of women and girls in Oklahoma live in poverty, according to the Center for American Progress.
 
Through a permanent endowment, WFO awards grants to Oklahoma organizations that help women and girls attain economic self-sufficiency. For more information on the foundation, visit www.wfok.org.
 
For more information on the emergency child care program at OSU-OKC, contact Brad Williams at 945-3204. For more information on degree opportunities at OSU-OKC, visit www.osuokc.edu.
 
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